Maybe that was the real Bernice, I thought – kind and innocent. Maybe she was truly like that inside, and all the fighting we used to do and all her sharp and unpleasant edges – that was her way of struggling to get out of the hard skin she’d grown all over herself like a beetle shell. But no matter how she hit out and raged, she’d been stuck in there. That thought made me feel so sorry for her that I cried.

They seem close, the stars, but they’re far away. Their light is millions, billions of years out of date. Messages with no sender.

Fallow state, the Gardeners would say. They used that diagnosis for a wide range of conditions, from depression to post-traumatic stress to being permanently stoned. The theory was that while in a Fallow state you were gathering and conserving strength, nourishing yourself through meditation, sending invisible rootlets out into the universe.

Behind the studied blankness of her gaze, revolt must have been simmering. I recognized that surliness, that stubbornness, that captive-princess indignation, which must be kept hidden until enough weapons have been collected.

He knows this by the way the girl stumbles, and it occurs to him for the first time that by taking her with him he’ll be slowed down. He’ll be hampered by her ability to see.

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